Boys tennis: Roegner helps Naperville C. tie for second in Pitchford 32
It was not a good weather day for tennis.
Yet on a cold, blustery Saturday in Arlington Heights, many of the top players in the state were at least able to get started at tournament host Hersey before rain washed away the final round of the Pitchford 32-team Invite.
Two days of superb play from Ryan Roegner helped lift Naperville Central into a tie for second place along with Hinsdale Central at 52 points. They were 2 points behind tourney champion Glenbrook North.
Roegner reached the final, only to see his chance against Glenbrook North's Jacob Edelchik rained out.
The Naperville Central standout impressed with a 6-3, 7-6 (1) semifinal victory over No. 2 seed Mark Wu of Glenbrook North to earn his spot opposite the top seed, Edelchik. And Roegner's teammates remained alive to help coach Dan Brown's club amass it impressive 52-point showing.
"When we looked at how the weather might be earlier in the week, it appeared as if the (32) would never be played, so to get a full first day into the books and to get as far as we all did today will really help seeding for state in a month," said Brown.
The Redhawks' No. 1 doubles team of Bill Zhang/Martin Matov were ready to play Hinsdale South's Peter Alex/Namit Sambare in the third-place contest after dropping semifinal matches to top seeds Edwardsville and Hinsdale Central, respectively.
In No. 2 doubles, Naperville Central's Ammaar Saeed/Mark Polowczak saw their chance at a tourney win dashed by the rain before a matchup with New Trier.
And Redhawks freshmen Joseph Li was one victory away from playing for fifth place at No. 2 singles.
"I was really pleased with my play here, and of course especially today with my win over Mark (Wu), who is a very athletic, and gifted player," said Roegner, who likely wrapped up a top-four state seed with his weekend performance. "The conditions were awful. It was really cold, and the wind coming from the side never stopped blowing. But Mark and I managed to play some very good tennis, despite it all."
The success of Central's top player centered around his ability to stay focused.
"You couldn't get too fancy out there, because if you wanted to lob, play short or move the ball around a lot, the ball would end up all over the place," Roegner said. "Plus I think playing that way eliminated Mark from hitting those great cross-court returns that he does so well."
Libertyville sophomore Hayden Friese came back to win the consolation title over the Jacobs junior Kerwin Chong, 6-4, 6-3, while Naperville North's Saahil Rastagi dropped his consolation final match 6-3, 6-1 to Michael Sarazin.
The lone final that was completed was at No. 2 singles, where Valparaiso-bound Nick Marino of Glenbrook North handled Sam Komis of Stevenson 6-2, 6-1.
"Nick is a big, strong tennis player, who won most of the big points, despite me trying to mix things up with drops, slices, and a few other things that he offset so well," said Komis.
The Patriots sophomore, who entered the tourney as the 3-4 seed, advanced into the final by outlasting No. 2 seed Jeremy Lerner (Highland Park) after coming behind from a 9-6 deficit in the super-tiebreaker to win 12-10.
Because of the expected early afternoon rain, tournament officials played every match with a super tie-breaker.
Last year at the state tournament, Komis and Benjamin Bush went seven rounds until the Matov/Saeed team eliminated them in straight sets.
"I've gotten a lot bigger and stronger during the off-season," Komis said. "My serve is bigger, and I worked hard to improve both my forehand and backhand as well."
The Patriots' No. 1 team of Matt Harvey/Brian Weisberg made it into the fifth-place match with North Suburban Conference rival Lake Forest before their day ended. Stevensn's No. 2 team of Ozzie Sheelvanth/Arjun Viswanathan was forced to take an injury default before playing its third-place match against Hinsdale Central.
Stevenson finished fourth overall with 48 points, two ahead of New Trier.
Reigning MSL champion Barrington totaled 28 points to earn a ninth-place finish, thanks in part to some solid play at singles from Dylan Er at No. 2. And the Broncos' No. 1 doubles team of Matt D'Amore/Aryan Sharma earned a spot in the consolation final against Deerfield.
"We've got a really young and deep team this year, with three freshmen at the top of our lineup plus myself," said Er, who won three at the state in his rookie season last spring. "So to get in two straight weekends of play in the best tournaments of the year is big for all of us."
Although Er was unable to play in his fifth-place match at Fremd with Lake Forest sophomore Olesksyi Vyshyvanyuk, he was happy with his two days at the 32 -- particularly the 6-3, 6-1 victory over Thomas Moh (University High) to advance.
"My consistency and execution was were it needed to be in the match," said Er, "and that's something I'll be looking to continue from here on out."
The Broncos have an important week ahead of them, with rivals Conant and Fremd on the schedule with an MSL West Division title on the line.